I Know There Is a Heaven! – Hyman Appleman (historic sermon 1903-1983)
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” —Rev. 21:1-4
Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. It is one of the mightiest, if not the very mightiest, rewards God Almighty holds out to those who accept His Son as Savior and by persistent well-doing show forth their title to eternal fellowship with the hosts of glory. It is a joyous, noble, inspiring, cheering doctrine. It has encouraged the martyr at the stake and sustained the bed-ridden Christian tormented by the burden, the weight, the ailments of the flesh. Its message has charmed our childhood, heartened our maturity, inspired our old age. It has given us the brave fortitude to bear the trials and temptations of life with unbowed head and unfaltering step. There is not a soul among us, no matter how seemingly indifferent or unconcerned, who is not at times—and these times come oftener and oftener with the advance of years—brought face to face with the problems of the reality, of the very existence of heaven. It is my purpose, God aiding, to bring to your minds, hearts, your souls some of the glorious, victorious truths about heaven, its citizens, its perfections, its conditions, and, perhaps most of all, to point out to you what you must do to get there; then to plead with you in all the passion of my soul that you put your feet by faith in the way of the cross that leads to God and to heaven. My outline is simple, brief, and, I hope, to the point. I know there is a heaven. I know what kind of place it is. I know I am going there.
I. I Know There Is A Heaven
Fairness says so. Decency, justice, rightness, honor, honesty, common sense, demand it. Where would the justice, the boasted equity of God, were there no heaven? Christians do not always have the best of it in this life. Many of them are poor. Many of them are sick. Many of them are oppressed, afflicted, tormented. There is very little reward for them in this life. Tell me, can you believe that the sacrificial saint and the selfish sinner will meet God and enjoy the same conditions of life beyond? Fairness requires that there be a difference. Heaven is the difference. Fairness says so.
Feeling says so. There is something in my heart as there is surely in your hearts, some affection, some emotion, some drawing, pulling, echoing something that tells us again and again that there is life beyond the skies, a life with God, a life with joy, of tenderness, purity, holiness, peace, where these troublesome, trying, tempestuous burdens that afflict us will be sloughed off and we shall stand free and upright in the sight of God and of His Christ. Look into the very depths of your souls. Tell me, is it not so? Is there not in your hearts a longing for the fellowship of God, for the communion of Christ, for the freedom of the Holy Spirit, for the presence of the angels? That feeling was placed there by God. It has grown with the passing of the years. Surely God would not have endowed you with that yearning, kept it alive all these years, unless he meant to satisfy it in His own good time, in His own good will. This life cannot be the all in all. Our feelings prohibit such a thought. There must be a heaven. There is a heaven. Feeling says so.
Faith says so. Faith is confidence in the Word of God. The Book unmistakable, definitely, shoutingly, pressingly, imperatively teaches that there is a heaven. Doubt it, and the whole Christian system is exploded. Jesus spoke the fact of God when He said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions… I go to prepare a place for you.” Faith says so. Backed up by, founded on the inerrant, unchangeable, unmistakable, eternal Word of God. The world that Christians are seeking, is a city whose founder and builder is God, a city of peace, of rest, of bliss, of reward. There is a heaven. Faith says so.
II. I Know What Kind of a Place Heaven Is
My heart tells me. My soul whispers to me. My mind loves to dwell upon it. But, best of all, most assuring of all, safest of all, most satisfactory of all, the Bible definitely describes it. It is good exercise, inspiring practice, uplifting meditation, to run the references in the old Book on Heaven.
It is a prepared place. It is not an accidental, fortuitous conglomeration of a jerry-build something. It is a prepared place. God is its architect. Christ is its superintendent. The Holy Spirit is its builder. It is a work of art, a labor of love. It is in every detail a thing of beauty, a joy forever. Its grasses, trees, flowers, are of breath-taking beauty. Its streets are paved with gold. Its buildings are of the costliest, everlasting marble. Its government is in the hands of the Prince of peace. The Holy Spirit is its superintendent of education. The angels make up its teaching staffs. There are no jailhouses, no prisons, no reformatories, no hospitals, no orphanages, no old folks’ homes, no drugstores, no doctors, no dentists, no lawyers, no courts, no blind, no deaf, no dumb, no cripples, no weak, no aged, no feeble. Sin and Satan are banished forever. Nothing that is unclean or defileth in any way will be permitted to enter through its wide gates. There is nothing on earth to which we can compare it. The human mind cannot comprehend nor can the human tongue describe the glories of that eternal, prepared place.
It is a populated place. John says he saw a great multitude which no man could number of every nation, kindred, and tribe, out of all the earth. Thank God for that. From every continent, clime, country, color, creed, over all the earth, Jew and Gentile, black and white, Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, young and old, rich and poor, week and strong, educated, ignorant, they have all been bidden to the marriage supper of the Lamb, and myriads have accepted the invitation. What a crowd that will be! What a place of meeting, or greeting, of rejoicing that will be! Many of you have fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, sons, daughters that have crossed chilly Jordan before you. Thanks be unto God, you will all clasp hands and rejoice in the presence of God nevermore to endure the pangs, the bitter pangs of parting. All of us have friends that were as dear to us as our own flesh and blood whom God has called up higher. They, too, are waiting for us, waiting to welcome us into that fellowship of eternal bliss. Yes, heaven is a peopled place, filled with those who have washed their garments and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
It is a perfect place. The wisdom, the grace, the power of God assure and insure its perfections. There can be no flaws there, no mistakes, no something to have been left out or something to have been put in. There are no disappointments in heaven, no discouragements, no disheartenings. There is no sorrow in glory, no suffering, no pain. There are no tears in the presence of God, and the sable-hued angel of death walks not its golden streets. None of the toil, none of the trial, none of the tribulation of earth find a resting-place there. The waters of the river of life flow abundantly to be freely quaffed by all unto the renewal of youth, vigor, vitality. We never grow old up there.
III. I know I Am Going There
I have the assurance of that fact. It shouts in my heart, sings in my soul, sounds in my mind. I know beyond peradventure, beyond question, beyond doubt, beyond any sort of uncertainty that I am bound for the Promise Land, that one day I shall tread its golden streets, that one day I shall hear the angels sing, that one day I shall meet all of my precious friends who have gone on before me, that one day I shall see my blessed Savior face to face.
I know I am going there because I am saved. My entrance into glory land is not postulated upon the facts that I am who I am, a regenerated Christian. I am going there because I am saved, because I have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, because I have confessed Him before men, because my sins are forgiven, because my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Paul said, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” I have done all that. I have put my utter faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I have believed on Him. I have confessed Him before men. By His own unalterable, Holy Word, I know I am saved. I am going to heaven, for I have received Jesus.
I know I am going there because I am sealed, sealed in the eternal love, in the eternal purpose, in the eternal power, by the eternal Spirit of God. The matchless promises of God’s Word tell me so.
I know I am going to heaven because I am sustained. All along the journey from earth to heaven, since the day I first accepted the Christ as my Redeemer, God has made ample, abundant, satisfactory provision for my welfare. There is nothing I need, material, mental, physical, spiritual, that is not abundantly available to me according to the riches of God’s grace by and in Christ Jesus. I have the gift of the Holy Spirit to encourage and empower me. I have the promises of the blessed Word to cash on the bank of heaven for all my needs. I have proved again and again that Matt. 6:33, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”
IV. I Beseech You to Have Your Passport
Permit me one last word. As God gave me utterance, I have told you why I know there is a heaven; what kind of place it is; why I know I am going there. May I passionately, earnestly, urgently, beseech you to get your passport. You may if you will. It is altogether dependent upon your willingness. There is but one thing in your way: not your sins; Christ can and will wash those away; not your weaknesses, the Holy Spirit can conquer those in you. There is nothing in your way but your own, “I will.” This hour, if you are ready to say to God, “Lord have mercy on me, a sinner,” God stands ready to enroll you in the citizenship of heaven. Make sure your name is written in His Book.
Today the gates of glory swing wide open for your entrance. God is bending down from the throne. Jesus is reaching out His pierced hands to you. The Holy Spirit is softly whispering the gentle welcome to the invitation. Will you accept it? Some years ago, one of the engineers of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad, a superb Christian man, built his home by the side of the right of way. He had a six-year old daughter. Every day the engineer, in passing his home, pulled the cord of the engine’s whistle to greet his loved ones. The little daughter got into the habit of climbing on the fence to wave at her daddy as he passed. One day she overbalanced herself and tumbled into the ravine at the foot of the tracks. Her father came home that night to find her with a bruised scratched body. “Darling,” he said to her, “you must not climb that fence anymore. The next time you might hurt yourself pretty badly.”
“I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” answered the father; “tomorrow before I leave I’ll take a board out of the fence. Tomorrow evening and every other evening when I go past, you can stick your head and shoulders through that hole and see me and wave at me.”
The man did just as he said. From then on, daily, when the train sped past, the whistle blowing, the child pressed herself into the fence and waved hand and handkerchief to the much loved father. The days sped past. The winter came. The little girl contracted a severe cold that rapidly developed into double pneumonia. The man took time out of his job and sat night and day by the bed of his child. The doctors did the best they could, but God wanted that flower in His own garden. The girl grew steadily worse until one day the family physician came out to call the father into the sickroom with the dreadful news that the child was dying. The father and mother stood at the foot of the bed watching. Pale of face, eyes closed, she lay there on her back in her little bed. Minutes went past. After a time, she opened her eyes. Noticing the tears of her parents, she whispered in a faint little voice, “Daddy, Mamma, why are you crying?”
The father and mother choked with their emotions, were unable to answer. They looked at the good doctor. The doctor turned to the child and, taking her small hand in his, gently told her that her father and mother were weeping because she was leaving them to be with Jesus. Again the child looked up into the face of her father. “Daddy,” she said, “you mean I am going to die?” “Yes, darling,” he whispered, “you are leaving Daddy and Mamma to go to be with Jesus.” The girl whimpered a little softly crying. Then she bethought herself of something and began to comfort the mourning ones. “Daddy,” she said, “Mamma, don’t cry. When I get to heaven, the first thing I am going to do is tell Jesus about you. I am going to tell Him what a good Daddy and Mamma you were and how you always talked to me about Him. Then I am going to ask Jesus to take a board out of the wall around heaven. Every day I shall go to that opening and watch for you. When I see you coming, I shall wave at you to show you where I am that you may come to me.”
This is just what Jesus is doing for us and to us right now. Bending over the battlements of glory, His pierced Hand is Stretched Out Still to us (Isaiah 9:12b, 17b and 21b). He is beckoning us to come to Him. He is longingly, yearningly, pleadingly, anxiously waiting for you. Will you this very moment accept His invitation? Will you, in humble, penitent, childlike, yet bold, trusting faith, come to the blessed Savior right now, that you, together with the great multitude of us, may start on the journey to the Promised Land, never finish until you stand complete in the Lord Jesus Christ before the throne of God in the glorious heavens? God give you the grace to come, and meet this Jesus and celebrate the first birthday of your immortal soul, or to reaffirm your position with the Holy Spirit, as a child of God.